A splinter is a small shard of any material that embeds inself in the skin. These are generally painful and worse if the area where the splinter has embedded has any pressure applied to it.


Any puncture wound may have debris or a splinter beneath the skin surface that may be invisible. Any puncture wound that continues to hurt should be examined by a doctor.

X-ray investigation is only beneficial if the splinter is made of metal, because most other materials will not appear radio-opaque (visible on X-ray).

Any attempt to remove a splinter should be done with the correct implements, such as a pair of fine tweezers. The use of a needle to break the skin over a splinter to allow access for the tweezers is acceptable if the splinter is not buried too deep. All equipment should be sterilized in boiling water over over a naked flame for at least Imin. (Do not hold the other end of the metal instrument whilst sterilizing it.) Alternatively, a dilute solution of a disinfectant may be used but this needs to be washed off with boiling water before applying to the skin.

Use an Arnica- or Calendula-based cream before and after.

Squeamish children (or adults!) may try applying the adhesive part of a sticky plaster to a visible splinter. Leave on for 48hr. The body will eject the foreign object at the rate of skin growth and this may adhere to the sticky plaster which, when removed, will pull the splinter out. > Do not hesitate to visit a doctor, who will have all the equipment to remove a splinter and be able to offer a local anaesthetic as well.